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state library of queensland

I Heard it on the Radio

Band playing on stage to  crowd

I Heard it on the Radio

25 years of 98.9fm Murri Country

This exhibition is in the past.
4 May 2019 – 6 Oct 2019
kuril dhagun

Protest in the air, a fresh voice on the airwaves; the first Indigenous radio station in a capital city began broadcasting in the 1990s… bringing an exciting new sound to our stereos.

I heard it on the radio looks at 25 years of 98.9FM Murri Country and its influence in giving a voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the radio.

From their genesis in the protest movement, 98.9FM’s significant contribution to Australian media was a catalyst for change.

Through newly commissioned digital stories, never-before-seen photographs, historical documents and radio station ephemera, learn more about the people, the music and the power of self-representation. 

Taking back the power

Media has been a tool in misrepresentation and myth-making of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Brisbane Indigenous Media Association (BIMA) and 98.9FM were created to take back the power of representation through media for its people and community.

For 25 years, 98.9FM has provided an essential platform for the Brisbane Indigenous community, acting as a gathering point, for sharing music and local activities, and as a vehicle for education and reconciliation.

Tune in, read on

Listen to archival radio excerpts from Murri Hour on 4ZZZ.

Murri Hour on 4ZZZ

Ross Watson and Tiga Bayles at 4ZZZ in 1993

Murri Hour was initiated by Gungalu and Birri Gubba frontline activist and coordinator of the Black Protest Committee, Ross Watson. Murri Hour aired on 4ZZZ from 1984–1993, beginning as a pre-recorded 20 minute daily segment in its first year, to over  16 hours a week by the end of the second year. Watson, the founder and editor of Black Nation newspaper, said Murri Hour “gave the community a chance to demand that Indigenous media be recognised as an essential service”.

In 1988 BIMA was incorporated, encompassing radio, publishing and filmmaking, realising Watson’s vision of comprehensive ownership and control of media channels. In the same year BIMA was granted a community radio licence to expand Murri Radio, however plans were stalled by an appeal from competing community groups vying for their spot on the dial.

BIMA was successfully allocated funding from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) to defend its licence after an eventful road trip to Sydney to address the first meeting of the ATSIC board. In 1991 the Australian Broadcast Tribunal confirmed its original decision and issued the broadcast licence to 4AAA Murri Country. BIMA made its first broadcast on 98.9FM as 4AAA Murri Country on Tuesday, 6 April, 1993. The momentous occasion was attended and opened by Senator Neville Bonner, with prominent community members and the founding crew of the station.


Digital stories

Through State Library's digital stories see the evolution of 98.9FM from its humble beginning in the protest movement until now.

I heard it on the radio: Murri Country 98.9FM

30th Anniversary of the Commonwealth Games Protests 1982

Discover more

Tune in to 98.9FM poster
‘Please your Binung’ Poster
Check out the 98.9FM poster in State Library's collection.
View item
98.9FM outdoor broadcast van in 2010
98.9FM has come a long way since its humble beginnings as the “Murri Hour” on ZZZ in the 1980s.
Visit site
Hand on controls at the 98.9FM radio station
A creative team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media workers developing informative and educational resources for First Nations people of Australia.
Visit site
People gathering inside the I heard it on the radio showcase at the State Library.
The following resources have been compiled for further information.
Download resources